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Opinion: Afriyie-Ankrah should not be the 2014 World Cup sacrificial lamb

Published on: 13 July 2014
Daily Graphic writer Vance Azu says the decision to sack the sports minister Ankrah was hastily done

The senior national team, the Black Stars, and, indeed, the whole nation went to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with high hopes following the spectacular performance of the team in two previous tournaments — Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010.

The team enjoyed overwhelming support in South Africa 2010 and it missed a semi-final berth as a result of the attitude of Luis Suarez of Uruguay and Liverpool fame.

But for that professional misconduct on the part of the player, Ghana would have rewritten Africa’s World Cup history as the first nation from the continent to have reached that stage of the competition.

The road to Brazil was not very easy, with the skeptics predicting doom for the country simply because the Ghana Football Association (GFA) had settled for a local coach, Kwasi Appiah, as well as the inability of the coach to get the full complement of the team with the absence of Kevin-Prince Boateng, Michael Essien, Andre Dede Ayew, his younger brother, Jordan Ayew, among others.

The skepticism deepened when the final match against the Pharaohs of Egypt, apparently the decider, was tagged as the end of the road for the Black Stars.

However, things did not go the way the agents of doom had wished and the team whitewashed the Pharaohs by six goals to one.

With that feat, the stage was set for the Black Stars to dazzle again at the world stage and make an impressive improvement on their last appearance.

The preparations towards the tournament were not bad, with all the necessary logistics and funding for the tournament being secured, as we were made to believe by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the GFA.

Strangely, the performance of the team this time around was very disappointing and disastrous, with all kinds of allegations flying around accusing one office holder or another of malfeasance and mismanagement which culminated in player mutiny and the subsequent elimination of the team after the group matches.

One of the major casualties of the Brazil debacle was the energetic and charismatic Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Elvis Afriyie Ankrah.

Mr Afriyie Ankrah has been moved from the ministry to the Presidency as a result of the bad-mouthing and flak he received from a section of the media, as well as some disgruntled Ghanaians who have an axe to grind with him.

My worry is that if one follows the sequence of allegations levelled against the minister, one will realise that some of the things being alleged that he had engaged in are merely speculative and lack the necessary substance needed to nail him.

Among the thousand and one sweeping allegations levelled against Mr Afriyie Ankrah are that he took 20 of his nuclear and extended family members, as well as his in-laws, to Brazil; he also took along some celebrities, including female musicians and actresses such as Becca, Jackie Appiah, among others, to Brazil, and even engaged in an amorous relationship with Jackie Appiah.

One other allegation is that her mother, who is domiciled in London, United Kingdom, was given the exclusive right to sell replica jerseys of the Black Stars and other paraphernalia.

Sadly, in the midst of these allegations, the President hastily removed Mr Afriyie Ankrah and his deputy from the Sports Ministry and re-assigned them.

What I consider most unfortunate about this whole scenario is that days after the President’s action, the man who took over from Mr Afriyie Ankrah, Mr Mahama Ayariga, instituted a Committee of Enquiry, chaired by Mr Justice Senyo Dzamefe, to look into the fall-out from Brazil 2014.

I am not holding brief for the minister, but I wish to state that I share his predicament, especially when the allegations which have been levelled against him have not been substantiated by his accusers.

All these were things that went on while the minister was still in Brazil. Now Mr Afriyie Ankrah is back and he has started explaining some of the issues. He has, indeed, repudiated majority of the allegations.

Since I started listening to Mr Afriyie Ankrah, both on radio and television, as well as reading his reaction in the print media (and I believe some discerning Ghanaians too do), the perception I formed initially about him, as well as the events that led to our failure in Brazil, has started to change.

The habit of condemning our political office holders before giving them a hearing is not the best way to help our democracy flourish. Everybody has his/her say but let us always show fairness to those who stand accused by listening to their side of the story.

Let us also show some respect to our ministers and other political figures because when we keep on maligning politicians unjustly, there will be a time when people will hesitate to accept political positions.

Mr Afriyie Ankrah has been sacrificed because of the half truths that were peddled in the media. I, however, believe that with the committee set to start its work, the President decided to reassign him so that he does not interfere with its work.

Whatever the case, the whole truth on what led to the Brazil fiasco will be made known in the shortest possible time. But the question I keep asking is: if Mr Afriyie Ankrah is exonerated at the end of the day, what will the President do about his current status?

By Vance Azu, Daily Graphic


This article has 6 comment(s), give your comment
  • maubs says:
    July 13, 2014 10:50 pm
    here we go journalists writing eulogies and death rites all to do what support the mediocrity and the indenfesible. h Leader of a delegation as afriyie ankrah could go to tournament as cultural ambassador to boost the profile of the country or help bring investment to the country. If he leades a delegation his communication, leadership and delegation skills must be apparent putting the welfare and motivation of the players must be his priority. it was an expensive venture and did he do his work properly? no no no. so those allegations about his wife and ticketing etc are new stuff and if they need to be investigated so be it and if there must be prosecutions then so be it too.The reputation of ghana must be of more significance than any individual. I see AA, Nyantakyie and the rest are still intact. no shame, no remorse and threatening to cut down on indiscipline. I n which case then most of the bs must be sascked spart from the muntari etc. To me the lack of tackle for usa first goal is indiscipline, usa second goal-indiscipline. goalkeeper dancing after saving c ronaldo shot indscipline and on and on and on. AA is tactically and technically and humanly bankrupt as a leader.
  • Boro says:
    July 13, 2014 09:23 pm
    He even needs to be further investigated properly to recover all the monies looted since he became the minister back to the state. I hear he has become one of the richest after siphoning all the monies meant to improve sports in Ghana. Senior thief and nation wrecker!
  • Eric Okotah says:
    July 13, 2014 04:41 pm
    Vance, I beg to differ with your explanation. The former minister was not removed merely because of allegations of taking his family, his mother been the sole right to sell Black Stars jersey , but he supervised all the shame and embarrassment caused the president as well as the country. How could have better managed the airlifting of the $3 million to Brazil to pay the players appearance fees, he could have better handled the players agitation if the FA President was been irresponsible by putting the captain of the team on the phone to talk to the president. These not withstanding do ever recollect, when your own working colleague Sports Minister led the Black Stars to South Africa in 2010, was there any allegation of flirtations with any men during the tournament. As a journalist Vance you know very well there were supporters who may have seem scenes that may have led to the allegations of dealings with the so called female ambassadors. In any case what was their role in Brazil. If they are considered stars they should have helped raise the money and pay their way to Brazil. Every star I saw in Brazil from the US Kobe Bryant and Lebron James all paid their way. Vance he was not a sacrificial lamb Elvis needs to be fired and not just dump at the presidency with all his privileges intact. Thanks Eric Okotah, US
  • kwasi nkroma says:
    July 13, 2014 12:42 pm
    pls with due respect Mr writer not again .stop that your Ghanaian habit and support the truth.he did not do it well and he is fired period and there are more to be fired so talk about that and stop lamenting by saying his firing was not the best.thank you .as u mention above if they keep on firing them like this all corrupt ones will be vigilant when given a post.God bless ghana
  • selfmade says:
    July 13, 2014 02:02 pm
    What's your name because I can't see your name on the piece and is clear that u have no conscience and u only care for your stomach so u can stooped so low to do any dirty propaganda for few stolen Ghana CEDI's!! Who was the leader of the delegation and who promised the prwdient that he ll bring the cup to Ghana? Who took the credit for WC qualification? Who organized the the WC trip and who was the budget allocated to? Why did the players rebelled in the first place? U have no credibility and is obvious that u are some deluded foot soldier who has no shame and can't even think for himself! If u think that, ghanaians are gullible like u and your lot, then u are hallucinating! The so called honourable minister has already accepted his faults for his crass incompetency in brazilian fiasco and some good for nothing so called writer LL come here to defend this pathetic, sorry ass minister! If a minister who was the leader of gov delegation with accredition,ll come out to say that, he even struggled to approached the team in Brazil, then it should give u the clue as to the level of incompetency of this pathetic minister! This was a shameful remarks from him and u came here to defend this guy? U are indeed part of this messy situation we find ourselves in! This minister and his deputy planned the whole trip and they had enough time to sort out the appearance fee which has been given to us by FIFA but he didn't but rather was planning of sending so ambassadors to Brazil on tax payers monies and u put the blame on the players!! U are a microcosm of what is wrong with Africa!
  • Rasheef says:
    July 13, 2014 02:43 pm
    @Selfmade,do you think everybody is living good like you.Your name speaks for itself,because you make things happen.Unfortunately for some journalists like Vance Azu the writer,because of hunger they are prepared to even write about how ants play football,provided you will give them something to keep the body and soul together.It is not easy being a journalist in Ghana,can't you see how cheap Saanie Diarra is?.